Oregon Lifts Most State-Wide Mask, Distancing, Capacity Restrictions: What Employers Need to Know | Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC

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As of June 30, 2021, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA) lifted most restrictions. statewide mask and physical distancing related to COVID-19, with a few exceptions. Mask requirements remain in place in some specialist settings, including healthcare, emergency medical services, public transportation, transportation hubs and correctional facilities. Additionally, companies may continue to require individuals to wear masks, face covers or face shields and to physically distance themselves, regardless of their immunization status. Individuals can continue to wear masks, face covers or face shields, even when not required, if they choose to do so.

State-wide mask, distancing and capacity restrictions

Governor Brown’s Executive Order 21-15 came into effect on June 30, 2021 and repealed the statewide mask mandate, physical distancing restrictions, and capacity limitations except in certain contexts specialized in accordance with federal and state guidelines. Despite the lifting of most restrictions, the decree maintains a state of public health emergency until December 31, 2021, to allow access to federal support and funding, and flexibility during the reopening process and recovery.

Based on the decree, on June 30, 2021, the OHA issued updated guidelines on masks, “Public health recommendations: wear masks, face covers and face shields and physical distance in places. public. The updated guidelines remove previous mask and distancing requirements (including those related to verification of immunization status), except in certain settings, including healthcare, adult prisons and correctional facilities, youth detention and correctional facilities, public transportation, transportation hubs, some Oregon OSHA required workplaces, and businesses that continue to require masks and distancing. However, even when this is not required, the OHA “strongly recommends” that people who have not been vaccinated or “who are at risk of contracting serious COVID-19 illness continue to wear a mask or blanket. -face and maintain a physical distance of at least six (6) feet from other individuals in crowded areas and in large gatherings of individuals. The guidelines also state that the OHA does not recommend that individuals wear only a face shield rather than a mask or face covering, unless it is not possible to do so (for example due to a problem. health or when interacting with people who need to see the mouth and tongue movements to communicate).

Changes to Oregon OSHA COVID-19 Workplace Rule

OSHA in Oregon followed suit, and on June 30, 2021, released “Rules Changes Regarding COVID-19 Public Health Emergency at All Oregon Workplaces,” which entered effective immediately. The changes remove provisions from the previous rules that required all employers to ensure that employees and others in the workplace meet mask and physical distancing requirements. Following the changes, Oregon OSHA “no longer requires [most] employers to implement physical distancing ”or“ ensure that people in the workplace wear a mask, face covering or face shield as source control ”. However, Oregon OSHA rules continue to impose certain mask, distancing, and other requirements on employers in the areas of health, transit, emergency medical services (including first responders, firefighters, emergency medical services and non-emergency medical transport) and veterinarians. The settings. The rules also continue to require employers to allow employees who choose to continue to wear a mask, face cover or face shield, even when they are not required to do so.

Changes to Oregon’s OSHA rules further eliminated risk control procedures for transporting shared vehicles and additional restrictions that previously applied to several other industries. Mandatory annexes for some industries have been reduced from 13 to 3. The only industries that still have a mandatory annex with additional requirements are transit agencies, veterinary care and emergency medical services. Instead of the requirements removed by these rule changes, Oregon OSHA now encourages “[e]Employers who wish to assess their workplaces to determine how they can ensure the safety and health of their employees ”contact Oregon OSHA Consulting Services.

While statewide mask and distancing warrants are no longer in effect, updated rules and guidelines allow companies to voluntarily continue to require masks and physical distancing regardless of the status of the operator. vaccination if they choose to do so, subject to the same pre-existing accommodation obligations for people who cannot wear a mask due to a disability. According to Oregon OSHA, employers who continue to require masks or distancing must continue to post signage regarding their requirements.

Additionally, the updated rules and guidelines do not prohibit local governments in Oregon from implementing their own continuous mask or distancing requirements. At this time, it doesn’t look like any county or city in Oregon will impose a permanent local mask or distancing warrants, but local requirements could change.

Employers may want to keep in mind that other Oregon OSHA rule requirements remain in effect, including those regarding:

  • cleaning and sanitation;
  • routine ventilation maintenance and assessment;
  • exposure risk assessments;
  • infection control plans;
  • information and training of employees;
  • COVID-19 infection notification process;
  • COVID-19 tests;
  • medical withdrawal; and
  • other additional requirements applicable to “workplaces at exceptional risk” as well as employers in the healthcare, public transport, emergency medical services and veterinary services sectors.

Key takeaways for employers

As a result of these changes, there are a number of new developments that employers in Oregon may want to keep in mind. Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Most Oregon employers (except in certain contexts as noted above) are no longer required, but may choose, to enforce mask and / or distancing requirements in the workplace.
  • Employers in Oregon are no longer required to have a policy regarding or verify vaccination status before allowing a person to leave without a mask or physical distancing.
  • Employers in Oregon who choose to continue to require masks or distancing should continue to post signs regarding those requirements.
  • Employers in Oregon who choose to continue to require masks or distancing should continue to consider accommodation requests from people who cannot wear a mask due to a disability under federal law and the United States. State.
  • Oregon employers must continue to comply with and enforce all other applicable provisions of the OSHA Oregon COVID-19 rules that remain in effect.
  • Oregon employers should continue to monitor local and state laws and guidelines for potential changes.
  • In accordance with the Oregon Safe Employment Act, which protects employees from discrimination and reprisal for engaging in good faith in certain protected activities related to workplace safety, employers in Oregon cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees for reporting safety concerns or exercising their rights under the OSHA Oregon COVID-19 Rules.

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